Volunteer Fire Departments across the nation are feeling the effects of the Covid19 pandemic. Volunteer Fire Departments sprang into action immediately following the onset of the pandemic back in March of 2020. In the initial phases of the pandemic, fire departments spent countless hours training their members and sourcing personal protective equipment. As cases of the novel coronavirus grew locally and stay at home orders went into effect, firefighters experienced a sharp increase in call volume.
According to McCord’s Fire Department Chief Rich Lindsey, his department experienced more than a 40% increase in calls for assistance in 2020 over the previous three years. While Covid-19 related calls represent a significant chunk of the increased responses, Chief Lindsey stated that the department also saw increases in fires and other rescues. He attributes this to people staying at home in the department’s rural jurisdiction.
Possibly the most significant impact of the pandemic has been the financial burden placed on volunteer fire departments who rely heavily on fund raisers and donations for daily operations. According to Chief Lindsey, donations and fund raiser proceeds make up more than $10,000, or about twenty-two percent, of the department’s annual operating budget. However, due to Covid-19, the department was forced to cancel all of its annual fund raisers and consequently saw donations dry up. This resulted in more than a $9,000 decrease in annual revenues.
“When you operate two stations and six apparatus and answer more than 200 calls on a budget totaling less than $50,000.00, a $9,000.00 decrease in revenues can have a detrimental and lasting impact,” said Chief Lindsey. Volunteer fire departments have received financial assistance as a result of the CARES Act throughout the pandemic to purchase items needed to respond to and
prevent the spread of Covid-19. However, due to restrictions placed on those funds by the federal government, they could not be used to replace lost revenues.
“We are not alone, and we realize that,” said Chief Lindsey. “The pandemic has had negative impacts on businesses, non-profits, and individuals nationwide. However, we are encouraging those who are able to do so, to continue to donate to their local volunteer fire department.” Anyone wishing to donate to McCord’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department can send checks to 1150 County Road 157 Centre, Alabama 35960 or contact the department’s Treasurer, Karen Bobo, by phone at 706-584-0386 to donate by debit or credit card. The fire department is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization making all donations tax deductible.